The opening of Trader Joe's isn't slated until next year, but construction has started on a site on the northern tip of the University Village Colorado shopping center that will become home to the speciality grocer's first Colorado Springs location.

An initial building permit was pulled last month for construction of a 12,500-square-foot structure at 5342 N. Nevada Ave., northwest of Nevada and Garden of the Gods Road. Trader Joe's plans to open on the site in 2015.

The building has a ways to go before it takes shape. Dirt has been moved, the building's outline has been laid out and stacks of cinder blocks have been brought to the site for construction of walls.

But given that the building is a little smaller than a Walgreens, and that electric lines and other utilities already are on site, could Trader Joe's open sooner than 2015?

Company spokeswoman Alison Mochizuki said via email this week that next year remains the target date for the opening in Colorado Springs. The building's general contractor, Peak Professional Contractors of the Springs, didn't return phone calls.

But another Colorado Springs contractor said it's possible the building will be ready to occupy well before next year.

Alex Fotenos, a co-owner and vice president of Tab Construction Inc. and 2014 board president of the El Paso County Contractors Association, said the building's relatively small size, the presence of utilities and the fact that work is underway means it could be done by September or October.

However, from that point, Trader Joe's still would have to bring in its inventory, stock shelves, hire employees, train its staff and do whatever else is needed before the store opens.

"I really think the building will be done in the fall of 2014," Fotenos said. "But how long they take to get ready to open the doors is their deal."

California-based Trader Joe's opened its first three Colorado stores in February, in Denver, Greenwood Village and Boulder, and plans to open a second Denver location and one in Fort Collins later this year. The chain announced in March it would open at University Village Colorado, home to Costco Wholesale Club, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse and several other retailers and restaurants.

Trader Joe's is ultra popular among shoppers for its unique lines of gourmet, vegetarian, organic and frozen foods that aren't found in other stores. The chain also is popular for its discount wines, although they won't be sold in the Springs; state law limits grocery chains to a single location for liquor sales, and Trader Joe's already sells its wines in Denver.


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